I wish there were a lot of things that people would have told me or encouraged me to do. With my final day at Alabama approaching this May, the greatest thing Tuscaloosa has taught me is what it means to be alone and that I will be okay.
I wish I would have known my freshman year, that the first day after your parents leave, was going to be as hard as it was. It would’ve been nice to know how overwhelming of a feeling it is to stand in the quad as a GDI on WOW week, alone, not recognizing a single face. Or how blessings come from spontaneous acts and you’ll meet friends in unexpected ways. I wish I knew how I was allowed to be dumb or how to fully enjoy all the laughter that came with sharing a dorm room. I wish I knew I was going to break the rules and that’s okay. And that freshmen friends truly become your family away from home, even if they don’t last. I wish someone would have told 19-year-old me that this isn’t when your life truly starts.
I wish someone would have told me to throw out that expectation of a college relationship by the time I was a sophomore. Or that homesickness is really no joke. It would have been nice to know not to spend all my dining dollars on Chick-Fil-A, or that crying would be a part of my regular routine. No one cares if you rush as an upperclassman in the South, because Greek Life is what you make it. I should have screamed louder that Rounders is not a freshman bar, while enjoying still being naïve. I wish I knew that just because someone is your friend does not mean they are the right fit for you. I also wish someone would have stopped me from dressing in the same denim shorts and a black top at a every frat party. No one told me what it meant to live on the Strip or what it would be like to move into my first apartment. And damn do I wish I knew that frat guys were not as special as we make them out to be.
I wish someone told me that as a junior, I would face a lot of questions. Or more so, had known that I should have pondered over questions about my future more than I did. I wish I shook my shaker a lot more when the Tide made a touchdown. Or that I didn’t give up on meeting new people and realized that you should always be making new friends. Someone should have told me about the Alabama experience of eating at Rama Jama’s on a Saturday. Or that it’s okay to say no to going out for a night, or at least to take better care of yourself. What I would do to re-experience that feeling of invincibility. I wish I knew that junior year meant the last of enjoying things, without think about the meaning behind them.
I’ve grown to know that senior year is your hardest year because you know so much. You’ve learned about what you like to do and who you like being around. How that last step in the classroom, submission of a final paper, or last song at a date party is going to have you crying, or maybe cracking open a cold one. That graduation will hit you so flippin’ fast. You’re not going to be afraid to kick people out of your life because you are a completely different person. Or better yet, you’ll actually understand who and what you want in life and that this will be the year you’ll enjoy being yourself the best. I wish I knew that as a senior I would question my own decisions—past and future—and that it’s hard to not count your last everything.
I really wish someone would have told me to just live. That I shouldn’t be afraid to reach out, be a part of something, and stop giving a damn about what anyone would think. I wish someone would have told me that nobody cares, and I should never care what others think. I never wanted advice on how to do college, and I’m glad I never got it because it made for my own personal experience. By wishing, it makes me realize how much I want to do it all over again.
Andy Bernard really sums up my experience at Alabama: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them,” except, I do know I’m leaving them.